Perhaps you have experienced something like this yourself. My Wife and I recently thought about changing our car. She had her eye on a specific model because her Brother has one. Having had a ride in that car myself, I agreed to investigate further. We decided one Saturday afternoon to visit the local dealer.
We didn’t have an appointment. So we were happy when, after about five minutes, one of the salesmen came over to see whether we needed any help. After asking a few questions and taking down a few details, the salesman took us outside to show us around the car we would drive. After the test drive, which was pretty agreeable, we gave the guy contact details, discussed the price list and left.
We never heard from that dealership again. Now we didn’t just visit and ask for a brochure. No, we were very interested in the car. We even asked them to talk us through the price list for the range. We gave a lot of buying signals. And still, no courtesy phone call. No follow up. Nada.
A couple of months on, and we have just changed our car. And you won’t be surprised to know we went with a different car from a different manufacturer and dealer. So, it’s not only that specific garage that lost out on the business, it’s the manufacturer too.
Don’t turn away new business. Don’t disappoint your existing customers. Follow my “7 As of responsiveness” so you can be responsive as a business.
1 – Ask
Around a week ago, I wrote about the value of asking people what they want. The only way you know whether and how you need to adjust your offering is to ask people.
In the context of today’s post, you show responsiveness when you act feedback people give you. Take the answers people give you to the questions you ask them and do something with that. I spend a lot of time working with business leaders who want to put customer feedback at the heart of their business.
2 – Available
Be open for business so people can contact you. Ensure your details are easy to find. There is nothing more frustrating than having to spend five minutes scouring a website looking for a phone number or the name of someone to speak to about a problem. The same goes for that car garage at the start of the post. It is important not to leave people standing around waiting when they come into your business.
I recommend you display your contact details clearly on your website and in your marketing material. Ensure you provide at least a phone number and an email address for people to use. You can build your brand presence this way too. If you have a physical premises, do make sure someone welcomes visitors without delay.
3 – Assistant
In the UK, lots of businesses are told it’s a good idea to have a landline phone number. Something about it tells people you are a genuine business with a physical premises. This in turn builds confidence.
So here’s the thing. If you don’t have someone manning the phone all day, be sure to redirect calls to your mobile phone. Or alternatively, engage a Virtual Assistant to take messages for you. You might get them to do a bunch of other things for you too, so you can focus on the things only you can do.
4 – Action
A plea. Please do what you say you are going to do. If you take my details and offer or promise to call me back or follow up with me, I expect you to do so. It’s that simple, so I don’t need to write more.
5 – Acceptable
Take a look at your brand promise again. What do you think are acceptable response times in your business? Maybe the time it takes you to reply to an enquiry is different to how quickly you respond to a complaint. Or perhaps you want complaints to be handled in a particular way. For instance, you might decide you are going to contact people who have complained yourself.
I remember when my Father used to work in Local Government. This was around the time interactive voice response (IVR) systems arrived on the market. They’re the reason you have to go through menus of choices every time you ring a company up. Dad always used to answer the phone really quickly. Turns out, his entire office was told to answer the phone within 5 rings.
Well, do you have a standard? How long does it take you to reply to emails? Noone is suggesting everything has to be done immediately, but do think through the time it takes you. And then see if you can standardise a bit so everyone gets a good experience and isn’t kept waiting too long. Remember, the person who writes you a letter won’t expect a response as quickly as someone who sends you an email. (Letters do still exist – I am told!)
6 – Accessible
You may want to consider offering more channels through which people can contact you or ask for assistance. Increasing numbers of businesses are integrating ‘chat’ or ‘callback’ capabilities onto their websites. Have you noticed?
I think the chat function works really well in two particular scenarios. The first is if I am in the buying process. Having an opportunity to ask questions and get responses with little or no delay is awesome. It is even more important if I need support. I generally don’t want to wait around for hours or days to get the answer to my question or wait for a problem to be resolved.
Mind you, it doesn’t really matter whether those additional channels of communication are available if it is unclear how long I should expect to wait for a reply.
7 – Audit
Finally, you need to keep an eye on how you are performing. Here I am not just talking about how you perform against the standards you set yourself, but I recommend you check in with your customers too. It’s important and extremely helpful to gather feedback, testimonials and reviews. The more transparent you are with your customers the better.
Have you ever noticed how different hotels, etc. either share both the positive and negative reviews or only the positive ones? Well, I recommend you embrace all feedback. Here’s the thing – don’t wait for someone to chase you for a response either. If I have taken the time to leave you a review, and even if it wasn’t totally flattering, be polite and give me some sign you read it. Even better, do something about it and share that too!
OK so lots of useful tips there. I hope some will be of use to you and challenge you to take a fresh look at the experience you are delivering. Are you truly responsive as a business? Does that work for you?
The final thought for today is this. Whatever you decide to do, be consistent. I covered this in a post a couple of days ago. Whether there are 2 of you or 200 people working in your business, you all need to act in a consistent manner. People spot the inconsistencies really fast and will exploit that, damaging the good work you’re trying to do.
Are you finding this series of any use? Please leave a comment below and do join the discussion on Twitter. Remember to use the hashtag: #CHA30DayChallenge
Thanks for stopping by and see you for more tomorrow friends!
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